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Military Experience and Political Wisdom

July 23, 2008

Anybody running for office who argues that he has wisdom regarding military strategy on the basis of his military experience is either a charlatan or a fool.

Claiming to be the one with the most military experience is an irrelevant display of pomposity and disregard for the past. It is difficult to claim that Jefferson Davis was wiser than Abraham Lincoln, or to defend the foolishness of Napoleon, the foolishness of a lot of World War I generals, some in World War II or to claim that any one of the three decorated vets Goering, Hess or Hitler were wiser about war than the invalid Franklin Roosevelt, or that General Westmoreland was wiser about Vietnam than any youthful but bright university scholar who had done a lot of reading but had not served in Korea. In judging candidates for the presidency we are compelled to listen and consider the arguments, not mindless bragging.

Military strategy involves economic and other considerations – not just will-power as Hitler believed. It might involve the question of whether we should fight here rather than there or the question of extending troops into another terrority, and it always involves the question of conditions of withdrawal. And with two candidates arguing military stragegy we should judge their strategies on the soundness of their argument, on details and facts.

Copyright © 2008-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.